Veterans honored at CN Veterans Appreciation Day
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation leaders hosted the tribe’s annual Veterans Appreciation Day for veterans and their families on Nov. 9 at the Veterans Service Center and Joe Thornton Archery Range.
Veterans from all military branches attended the event that included a welcome from CN officials, Cherokee hymns from the Cherokee National Youth Choir, a wreath-laying ceremony and breakfast at the Veterans Services Center followed by activities at the Joe Thornton Archery Range. Activities at the range consisted of a resource fair, archery, human foosball, horseshoes, basket weaving and a traditional hog fry.
“This is the very first time that we’re doing activities such as this. We’re partnering with the Joe Thornton Archery Range, Health (Services) and Fishing and Wildlife (Services) of the Cherokee Nation,” Veterans Service Center Director Barbara Foreman said.
The event was open to all veterans.
CN citizen and veteran Eddie Morrison attended the event because “it’s important to honor the veterans.”
“All veterans that served, I think, deserve respect if they wore the uniform of this country. I think the Cherokee Nation does a good job honoring our veterans,” he said.
Morrison served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1964-69 during the Vietnam War era.
“There’s a lot of Native American veterans. Of course, Natives have always stepped forward anytime there’s a call to do their duty, and the Cherokees are first and foremost,” Morrison said.
CN citizen Chuck Love attended the event as a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served from 1967-70 in Vietnam and in the United States.
Love said it is a “warrior tradition” for Native Americans, especially Cherokees, to serve.
“Generally, they’re the first to sign up and they’ve served throughout history. A lot of people don’t know that. We’ve always served in much higher percentages than our percent of the population,” Love said. “It’s a warrior tradition. It’s an old tradition that we’ve always had and will continue to have.”
Love said he is proud of everyone who has served and of the sacrifices that were made.
“I’ve just always been honored to be a veteran, do to what we did. Praise God we made it back. It’s always good to see other veterans and share with them,” Love said.
CN officials estimate that there are more than 4,000 Cherokee veterans. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Native Americans are believed to have more tribal citizens serving per capita than any other ethnic group.
“I am proud that we as a tribe can come together to show our appreciation and spend the day celebrating our veterans and their service to our great country,” Deputy Chief and U.S. Navy veteran S. Joe Crittenden said. “Our service men and women have always been near and dear to my heart, so I am thankful for this opportunity to show my appreciation.”